"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reading, Writing, and the Arts

Today, I was graciously invited to attend a school community council meeting with my opponent. It was a great learning opportunity because one question that was asked caught me by surprise. The question was, in essence, "Have you read the studies that talk about the benefits of the arts to math and reading, etc.? So, where do the arts fit in to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic?" I have to admit I floundered. What I did respond with and do know is that math and music are very directly linked. Improvement in math skills has a strong correlation with musical involvement. (In fact, my senior year in High School, I had to write a research paper for my math class, and I chose to do it on this very topic--the relationship of math and music.) I am a musician and a mathematician. I believe that music has enhanced my ability with math, and vice versa. I have a great appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of each discipline. Having said that, let me attempt to answer the question in more detail.

Art fits into the three R's as a complement, but also as an elective. All our students are expected to emerge from school well-versed in a foundation of the three R's. This is the focus as it applies to every student. For example, we don't have parents who send their kids to school and opt out of reading. The basic academic disciplines are the universal requirements. The basic knowledge in these disciplines is the primary reason for school. Along with the three R's, every child is going to be taught science and history, as well as introductions to the humanities. But not every child will be in the band, or play sports, or study sculpture. Because of the universal emphasis for basic academics it necessitates greater focus.

As I have spoken with parents, I have received feedback that they would like more focus on academics. It is not to devalue the arts or sports, but simply the idea of "more basics". I support a classic liberal arts education. Appreciation of art, architecture, literature, and music are things that all students should be exposed to. We acknowledge the Renaissance and the advancements in, not just art, but science as well, as a true 'rebirth' in history. We want students to understand and appreciate all these beauties and wonders around them. I, personally, have great memories of my school-days' associations in our Madrigal choir. But, when all was said and done, I was still expected to have that academic foundation.

A school board member has a responsibility to represent the ideas, issues, and concerns of the community to the district. You need to know that as I am presented with information and decisions, I will be doing so through the prism of "more focus on the basics". Does this mean I have a specific action plan? No. Do I wish to defund the arts or cut back on these programs? No. It is my desire to communicate to you, what principles I will fall back on as I take on these responsibilities. "A focus on more basics" will be part of that process.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you clarified that you do not want to cut funding to the arts. Your 3R's video seemed to make an arts cut implicit so I was worried about giving you my vote even though I desperately want liberal indoctrination out of my children's education.